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NAMB leader uses fiction to share Gospel & worldview

ATLANTA (BP)–“Christian novels with an edge” is how Randy Singer describes his two first two books which he says are intended to share the Gospel and represent a Christian worldview.

“When you read the Gospels, you see that Christ made a lot of his points through parables, and what better way to share the Gospel message than through an engaging story that draws readers in and then subtly and, at some point, directly, tells them about Christ,” Singer explained.

Singer’s not your typical novelist, though. He’s a lawyer who left the courtroom five years ago to serve as executive vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board. Writing in his spare time, he’s produced two books described by the trade press as “legal thrillers,” published by Waterbrook Press, a division of giant Random House.

“When you see people reading at the airport, waiting at the license branch and at the beach, you know the author has commandeered 10-12 hours of that reader’s time to give the reader the author’s worldview,” Singer said. “How often does someone say to us, ‘I’m going to give you 12 hours to tell me anything you want to tell me?’ What better vehicle than a book to do that?”

Singer’s first book, “Directed Verdict,” was published last October and was praised by critics and readers alike. In fact, it was recently named one of three finalists for the prestigious Christy Award for fiction sponsored by the Christian Booksellers Association, beating out books by many best-selling authors.

The book tells the story of an attorney, confronted with the torture and killing of an evangelical missionary in Saudia Arabia, who stands up to injustice in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

“Irreparable Harm” is Singer’s second work, released in May by Waterbrook. It uses many of the characters from the first, but introduces a new attorney who “runs a gauntlet of bioethical nightmares and life-threatening confrontations” amid the front-page issues of cloning, stem cell research and the fate of the unborn. One reviewer said the book “gives us serious issues to consider while never forgetting to focus on human stories amidst the legal finagling.”

As a Southern Baptist attorney writing legal thrillers, Singer is inevitably compared to mega-successful author John Grisham. He humbly jokes that perhaps the comparisons should end there.

“I’m not in Grisham’s ballpark, but I am a big Grisham fan. I think his greatest work was ‘The Testament’ because it did what I’m trying to do — share the Gospel in the context of a compelling story.”

Asked when he has time to write novels, Singer laughed and said, “Sleep is highly overrated,” explaining that he gets up at 5:30 in the morning and writes for about an hour, then goes to work. “Some days I don’t get much writing done, but I do a little every day.”

Singer’s wife, Rhonda, is his first sounding board. “I know she gets tired of me asking, ‘Listen to this, how does it sound?’ But she’s an English teacher so she’ll read, edit and then encourage me. And, after a good round of editing, I’m always in need of encouragement.”

Reviewers have described Singer’s writing as compelling and a fresh voice and his books as suspense-filled page-turners. One review of Irreparable Harm said, “Singer handles the legal aspects with aplomb, and does a fine job of educating us about cloning issues (while) dashing the dialog with humor.”

The easiest parts to write, Singer said, are the courtroom scenes, “because I’ve lived them. I’ve been there and had all the legal tricks pulled on me.” Harder to depict but more important, he said, is the spiritual growth of the characters.

“I want to tell stories about the power of the Gospel to change lives. How God works in the midst of trials — pun intended,” he said. “Both books contain several presentations of the Gospel including the sinner’s prayer, and some characters do get saved and demonstrate changed lives. But that happens in the context of the story lines, just like in real life.”

Singer said his prayer is that Christians will find the books entertaining and will feel comfortable sharing them with unbelieving family and friends. “I pray that the books would particularly get in the hands of unsaved lawyers, judges and law students.”

Both of the softcover books are available at Lifeway Christian Stores and a variety of other bookstores as well as online through Lifeway.com. The books also are available on audiocassette and CD.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: IRREPARABLE HARM.

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  • Martin King